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NBA Analysis: Lessons Learned from Knicks vs. Bobcats

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I should be writing about an impressive Knicks’ win, since throughout the game, and into the third quarter when the Knicks opened up a double-digit lead, the team finally showed an impressive level of teamwork. This continued a refreshing trend that has arrived like an oasis in a desert of awful, selfish, clueless, motionless basketball to start the year.

In fact, you put your head down for a second to write a snarky tweet, it’s likely you would’ve missed a lob. The first three quarters last night were a lob fest. Lob-lob-lob-lobbedy-lob-lob-lob. Like this one:

That’s a play that took real teamwork, particularly ‘Melo’s back-screen to free Shumpert. In the first few games, when everyone was all, “Fire D’Antoni”, the Knicks were all standing around waiting for something to happen. We started to see some seeds expand in to saplings during the Washington game. The trust level expanded and bore fruit against Detroit and we saw more lobs and motion during the Pistons victory. And throughout the first three quarters last night we saw it again. (I also can’t underestimate the Shumpert/Douglas difference here.)

But how’d the Bobcats claw back from double digits? I think it’s because in the fourth quarter, the Knicks reverted to ISO ISO ISO MELO MELO MELO. Granted, when ‘Melo decided it was time to take over in the fourth quarter, he missed a lot of shots at the rim that he’d normally make, and the refs swallowed their whistles for a lot of non-calls they otherwise would’ve been made. But that may just reinforce the point: Why go away from what had been working and insert the whims of one player’s performance and the referees’ prerogatives into the equation?

This has also clearly been a trend throughout the fourth quarters this season. Jared Zwerling pointed out (via Seth Rosenthal) that ‘Melo far outpaces other Knicks in fourth quarter scoring. Let’s take a closer look (via StatsCube).

  • Melo is taking an average of 19.9 shots per game.
  • Of those, 6.3 come in the fourth quarter, or close to 31% of his total attempts (an equal distribution would, obviously, be 25%).
  • Granted, he’s shooting 52% in the fourth quarter, which I’d gladly take.
  • However, he also has a very high 49% usage rate during the fourth. By way of comparison, Kobe Bryant leads the entire NBA on a per game basis with a 36.1% usage rate (Carmelo is second at 31.5).

The result is that the Knicks will have to live and die with these ‘Melo ISOs in the fourth, and when the shots aren’t falling, and/or he isn’t getting the calls, the Knicks are vulnerable to late game implosions. In making this observation on Twitter last night, a bunch of folks asked me whether the fourth quarter ‘Melo ISOs are by design, or whether ‘Melo is selfishly usurping the offense. The answer is: I don’t know, but neither would surprise me. My hope though is that the team embraces teamwork, which has been driving the recent success, for four instead of three quarters.

Get more great New York Knicks fan analysis over at KnicksFan.


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